Achieving social mobility: the role of equality law

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Since it came into office in 2010, the British Coalition Government has shown concern over the nation’s declining social mobility, highlighted in Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility, which identifies the private/state education divide at the root of the problem. However, despite this educational inequality and segregation, successive governments have not seen equality law as a tool of redress. This may because by tradition, distributive inequalities are dealt with only by political initiatives. The purpose of this article is to question this ‘tradition’ and evaluate whether using equality law in Britain as part of a social mobility agenda is justifiable, especially in education. The article concludes that discrimination law, based on school background, could play a significant part in employment, but technical issues make this less likely in education. However, a public sector equality duty extended to education could have a significant impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-291
JournalInternational Journal of Discrimination and the Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Social mobility
  • equality
  • discrimination law
  • socio-economic
  • education
  • opening doors
  • breaking barriers
  • Michael Gove
  • top jobs
  • Sutton trust
  • privilege
  • segregation
  • educational apartheid
  • university admissions
  • A-Level grades


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